Monday, December 14, 2009

Julianna Barwick





Julianna Barwick is a Brooklyn-based musician who has self-released two
records. 2007's Sanguine, a collection of loop-based vocal arrangements,
was made in her bedroom and completely improvised. 2009's Florine EP adheres
to the same loop-based, mostly vocal structure with minimal
instrumentation.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Michael Garrison


Michael Garrison or Garri was a synthesist from California, USA. He was born on November 28, 1956 in Oregon and died on March 24, 2004. At the age of 13 he wrote his first song and later, during his musical study at the Idaho University, he formed the basic for the first release on his own label Winspell Records, later Garrisongs Music. The original work was titled In The Regions Of Sunreturn and Beyond and based on the expeditions of Voyager 1 and 2. But when he managed to get a contract with BMG in 1980 the title changed to In The Regions Of Sunreturn and so he became also known in Europe. His style was typical strong sequences with monstrous solos played with various electronic instruments on top. Often a real wall-of-sound experience. An Earth-Star Trilogy differs from the rest of his work by having a much more calm atmosphere. He was strongly influenced by the European innovators of Electronic Music, like Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Queeen Victoria


The Endless Night is a ten-song album recorded at strange hours in a basement in Pittsburgh. Everyone else was asleep. The music is made up of acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, drums and voice. The songs are written by Nick Malkin.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Well Hung


Finders Keepers break yet more ground with this, 22 stomping selections from the vaults of Eastern Europe's best kept secret, Hungaraton / Qualiton Records. This first ever compendium piles heavy psych, jazz, glam and funk onto a heaped spoonful dripping with the cream of the 60s/70s Hungarian rock scene - Omega, Metro, Locomotiv GT, Skorpio as well as Finders Keepers' very own jet-set fit-bit Sarolta Zalatnay.

The unique ways in which Hungarian rockers interpreted such sporadic and disparate influences and unknowingly mirrored embryonic developments in Western rock from behind a political blindfold is truly unique. The national pride of Hungary's pre-war musical heritage ensured that the state-owned label Supraphon's in-house studio was designed to immaculate classical standards with acoustic specifications that would put its surrounding Eastern European labels to shame. The quality of phonograph records, from a part of the world that was usually notorious for low quality pressings and repeatedly recycled vinyl, would surpass the European standards ensuring that the hand crafted sound of Hungary's futuristic pop music was light years ahead of its time and would stand the test of time for many (delayed) years to come.

The introduction of electronic instruments penetrated Hungary like a double-edged sword and polarised progressive pop aficionados over night. Where the introduction of Czechoslovakian electric guitars unified Eastern Europe's rock 'n' roll fantasists and spawned the rock in opposition movement in the mid 60's the spurious arrival of synthesizers ten years later spawned a host of new streams of hybrid rock which embraced funk, soul and disco.

The restrictions of communism coupled with the silver-spooned Westerners musical xenophobia, however, as good as guaranteed that no matter how close Hungarians got to the authentic rock 'n roll sound their music would still never safely make the journey over the language barrier. In recent years, as much as 15 years since the collapse of the iron curtain, the interjection of many forms of latter day communist era art into popular western culture has become apparent and increasingly well documented. Hopefully at some stage discerning palettes will develop a taste for Hungarian rock music in the same way that we have come to accept, champion and be inspired by Polish poster art and Czech cinema.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fall Mix


It felt like Fall for a few days here in LA.Sorry for the lack of posts. A lot of good things coming soon!!

Fall Mix

1. Crocodiles - Young Drugs
2. HTRK - Marry Me Tonight
3. The XX - Heart Skipped A Beat
4. Cold Cave - Love Comes Close
5. Swishahouse - Luv Ya Girl RMX-(Screwed & Chopped version)
6. Blues Control - Tangier
7. Richard Hawley - Don't Get Hung Up in Your Soul
8. Greg Cartwright - Reptile Style
9. Kings of Convenience - Mrs Cold
10. The National - Ashamed of the Story I Told
11. Fleetwood Mac - Dreams
12. Lusine - Two Dots
13. Atlas Sound - Quick Canal (w/Latetitia Sadier)
14. Rameses III - I could Not Love You More Vinyl

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Far East Family Band


Regarded by many as the first Japanese progressive rock group, the Far East Family Band featured the keyboardist and future new age composer, Kitaro. A keyboard-dominated space rock band, the Far East Family Band played extended compositions that brought comparisons to Tangerine Dream and early Pink Floyd.

The group's first album was released under the band name of Far Out. After changing their name, the band released The Cave Down to Earth in 1975. Their first European release, Nipponjin -- Join Our Mental Phase Sound (1975), featured re-recorded versions of material from the previous record and the album attributed to Far Out. The group's next record, Parallel Worlds (1976), was profoundly influenced by Klaus Schulze who Kitaro met on a trip through Europe. With the first track over 30 minutes long, the album bears similarities to Krautrock legends Ash Ra Tempel. Tenkujin (1977) followed and was the band's first and only American release. By this point, the band consisted of Miyashta (vocals, synths, guitars, bamboo flute), Hirohito Fukushima (guitar, vocals, koto), and Yujin Harada (drums, percussion). It would be the band's last record. ~ Geoff Orens, All Music Guide

Thursday, September 24, 2009




A few years back, former Quiet Sun / Roxy Music / 801 behind-the-scenes mastermind Gill Manzanera--no relation to guitarist Phil Manzanera (whose real name is Philip Targett-Adams)--offered up a beguiling reminiscence of those heady days to the Swiss fanzine Sombre Reptiles:
"What we were trying to do, you see, was harness the future into the present. However, we were severely at odds with technology, a ring modulator on a Fender Rhodes and a bit of funny business through an analog synth being about as far as one could go then. The work with Quiet Sun was the foundation, then later Phil and Eno built upon that within Roxy and if only Ferry had acquiesced to Brian having a go at 'Bogus Man,' I think the results would have been stunning (as well as longer-lasting). But alas, so then for 801, the decision was to incorporate the progressive and avant garde through a chamber of fusion (so to speak), the results of which are undeniable. Mind you, this was all during the burgeoning punk era, so it took a bit of time for some to settle in with what was happening. But isn't that the future, really; someone has to be the first out the door to know if the rest of us will need a jumper or not. It was all quite brilliant in that way, absolutely so, I should think."

Hmm, well, that all sounds... quite English. Oddly enough, that sliver of quinine-sotted nostalgia could be used as a swab of historical DNA pap to describe the fantastic newest shimmer from Blues Control. While past releases have been beauteous extrapolations into the miasmic core of psychedelia and billowing fog of ambient space, Local Flavor is the one where all the chickens have come home to roost.

The opening track "Good Morning" is practically a sideways step into boogie rock (horn accompaniment provided by none other than Jesse Trbovich and Kurt Vile); with the proper seismic shift, it could almost be heard as an alternate reality take on "Re-make/Re-model." It's easily the band's longest stomp in the forest of rock since their debut cassette, and, man, them boots leave a bruise!

The remaining three tracks morph and ebb harmoniously--in true Blues Control fashion--the timbre occasionally elegiac, yet more often riffing on a plane that has yet to be transcribed. Local Flavor is 801 plus an extra one (8101, if you will), providing an unimaginable future that will take your breath away. So make sure you've paid your oxygen bill, because there are no free rides in the 82nd Century.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Phaseone


St. Louis producer Phaseone gained quite a following with his amazing remixes of Animal Collective, Panda Bear, Bloc Party, Banjo or Freakout, and more. He recently followed this up with a free album showing that he’s not too shabby at creating his own tracks as well. Click HERE for the free download of Thanks But No Thanks.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Tonstartssbandht


"Two brothers from Florida ... now in New York and Montreal. An international power duo without borders. High Rise disciples with angel voices. Here they've made an album of 12 anti-genre pop burners,An When. Thick with human voices. Choose your own single... Dad's on the cover" -Dœs Are

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kreng


Shrouded in the mystery and the opaque, otherworldly quality we've come to expect from the consistently remarkable Miasmah imprint, this beguiling debut album has been wrecking our collective heads here in the office for some time. Pieced together from a plethora of unidentified samples, field recordings and found sounds, Kreng taps into a unique, almost indescribable corner of the musical universe that originates from, and proceeds to completely re-imagine, the world of music for film and theatre. The eleven pieces here were, indeed, originally made for a variety of theatre productions and retain that illusory quality that's so often associated with arts-based music, but without any of the site-specific pretension or impenetrability that you'd think goes hand hand in with this kind of material. There's an intensely overbearing darkness to this work, covered by a dense thicket of layered drones and fuzzy sound recordings, but as each piece progresses narrow cracks begin to emerge, letting in shards of colour and light painted through fragments of jazz and classical music re-painted in shimmering, luxurious colours. It's very hard to think of any singular points of reference, but there are elements here that remind us of György Ligeti, Cliff Martinez, Moondog, Arvo Pärt, Arthur Lipsett, Deathprod, Bernard Herrmann and Dictaphone - while really sounding very little like any of them. "L'Autopsie Phénoménale De Dieu" is an incredible, utterly mesmerising collection of pieces that we have little doubt will entice, seduce and terrify you in equal measure and, needless to say, comes to you with our highest possible recommendation. ESSENTIAL

Monday, July 20, 2009

Cat Stevens


Cat Stevens virtually disappeared from the British pop scene in 1968, at the age of 20, after a meteoric start to his career. He had contracted tuberculosis and spent a year recovering, from both his illness and the strain of being a teenage pop star, before returning to action in the spring of 1970 -- as a very different 22-year-old -- with Mona Bone Jakon. Fans who knew him from 1967 must have been surprised. Under the production aegis of former Yardbird Paul Samwell-Smith, he introduced a group of simple, heartfelt songs played in spare arrangements on acoustic guitars and keyboards and driven by a restrained rhythm section. Built on folk and blues structures, but with characteristically compelling melodies, Stevens' new compositions were tentative, fragmentary statements that alluded to his recent "Trouble," including the triviality of being a "Pop Star." But these were the words of a desperate man in search of salvation. Mona Bone Jakon was dominated by images of death, but the album was also about survival and hope. Stevens' craggy voice, with its odd breaks of tone and occasional huskiness, lent these sometimes sketchy songs depth, and the understated instrumentation further emphasized their seriousness. If Stevens was working out private demons on Mona Bone Jakon, he was well attuned to a similar world-weariness in pop culture. His listeners may not have shared his exact experience, but after the 1960s they certainly understood his sense of being wounded, his spiritual yearning, and his hesitant optimism. Mona Bone Jakon was only a modest success upon its initial release, but it attracted attention in the wake of the commercial breakthrough of its follow-up, Tea for the Tillerman.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The 6ths


The 6ths are a side project of the Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt, who produced and wrote all of the material on 1995's Wasps' Nest, as well as playing much of the music. He only sang one of the tracks, however, giving all of the remaining lead vocal slots to alternative rock faves like Barbara Manning, Dean Wareham (Luna), Georgia Hubley (Yo La Tengo), Chris Knox, Lou Barlow, Robert Scott (the Bats), Chris Knox, and Mary Timony (Helium). Brighter and poppier than his contemporaneous efforts with Magnetic Fields, it demonstrated (intentionally or inadvertently) that his principal talents are as a producer and composer, rather than a performer.

Subway


Amazing new album of krautrock-inspired beauty!



Subway II
, the debut album by Subway on Soul Jazz Records, is a startling cosmic marriage of influences – German electronic rock music from the 1970s (Cluster, Kraftwerk, Neu, Harmonia, Ash Ra Tempel), 80s Detroit science fiction techno (Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, Jeff Mills) and a hint of Italian and European disco (Danielle Baldelli meets Cerrone, Space, Moroder and Jean Michel Jarre).

Subway are Michael Kirkman and Alan James and have been releasing music since 2000. Subway II was recorded at home in East London using a plethora of analog equipment and techniques that enabled them to create sound reflecting cityscapes such as Berlin, Dussseldorf, Detroit and Paris whilst at the same time creating a contemporary musical commentary of London in 2009.

This album is a cosmic progression of post-dance music, focused more on meditative thought and space than one made for the dancefloor, yet still encompassing the rhythm and constant beat at the heart.

Their most recent appearance is on Soul Jazz Records Singles 2008-9 alongside Kode9, Digital Mystikz, Tetine, Secondo, Ramadanman and other forward thinking electronic pioneers.

With three previous sell-out singles on Soul Jazz Records (Simplex, Satellites and 4410), an album ‘Empty Head’ (released in 2005) as well as a string of one-off projects, the group are currently name-checked by everyone from Hot Chip to DFA, Prinz Thomas to Carl Craig, with good reason.

‘Subway II’ is a fitting conceptual statement of their current sound. Cosmic, post-dance, organic, meditative and hypnotic.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Gnaw


Gnaw present their debut album This Face, viciously assaulting listeners with their unique brew of ultra-depressive, scathing, slug-paced extreme metal.

Formed in 2006 by Alan Dubin (ex-Khanate, OLD) along with Jamie Sykes (ex-Burning Witch, Thorr's Hammer, Atavist), Carter Thornton (Enos Slaughter), Jun Mizumachi (ex-Ike Yard: 80's NYC industrial legends) and Brian Beatrice (Emmy Award winning sound design/mix wizard),

Gnaw's debut album This Face is the sonic culmination of over a year of sound experimentation. It's a genre-destroying journey that almost defies description. Sykes is a percussive madman blasting out anything from tribal beats to ultra slow tom killings. Mizumachi is a sound designer for film and television and is a master of electronics including synth, factory noise, metal bashing and other craziness. Beatrice is also a sound designer and mixer for film and television and was responsible for mixing This Face, as well as experimenting and adding additional sounds of torture. Thornton is a crafty musician who actually makes his own instruments, contributing guitar, bass, piano and some unnamed homemade "things" to the album. Dubin rounds out the group with his gut-wrenching vocals, noise and arrangements. Screaming, singing, whispers and chants can be heard throughout This Face. Dubin's lyrics will mentally rape you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Time!!! 2009 Mix


Here is a nice little Summer mix. Go to the beach or pool and listen to this.
1. Milky Globe/Sorcerer - Soft Sea
2. Cluster- Stenthin
3. Desire- Dans Mes Reves
4. Royksopp- Silver Cruiser
5. Lee Fields & The Expressions- Do you Love Me(Like You Say You Do)
6. Odawas- Harmless Lover's Discourse
7. Crocodiles- Summer of Hate
8. Now - Last
9. The Halo Benders - Turn It My Way
10. Jubilee Singers- Gonna Like It
11. Dino Felipe - Stuck On You
12. Girls - God Damned
13. White Denim - Regina Holding Hands
14. Jane - Way To Paradise
15. Le Corbeau - Hibou

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In The Country



Ambitious, epic and grand in scale, In The Country´s third album ”Whiteout” qualifies to be called their magnum opus. Most of the music was performed and written as a thank you, as is the tradition, after leader Morten Qvenild was awarded Kongsberg Jazzfestival´s prestigious Musician Award. Other receivers have included notables such as Nils Petter Molvær, Bugge Wesseltoft and Sidsel Endresen. Qvenild is already established as a writer with a strong signature, original and melodic with elements from many genres of music. His playing is rich in detail and dynamics but never dominant, and together with bassist Roger Arntzen and drummer Pål Hausken´s sensitive and inventive contributions we are in for a treat when it comes to trio interplay. These eight compositions are all between seven and twelve minutes and are given time to develop, much like the best exploratory jazz and progressive rock music. Another triumph from the band whose previous effort was dubbed ”one of the finest and most arresting albums to come out of Europe this year” by Downbeat.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Halo Benders


Don't Tell Me Now sees Calvin Johnson's baritone and Doug Martsch's high-pitched whine working with and against each other to catchy effect. Lyrically obtuse, with subject matter praising draft dodgers as heroes and a supremely catchy theme song about themselves, the Halo Benders create a guitar-heavy indie poptopia throughout the album. Martsch might not attack his guitar in as epic a fashion as he does with Built to Spill, but his trademark sound is on display throughout. Built to Spill fans might consider this a Built to Spill album as recorded by Martsch at a circus. If that metaphor holds up, Johnson becomes the ringleader, singing about all sorts of mundane things and randomly spouting clichés. Martsch in turn becomes the more serious guitar god and a more realistic conscience. The album might seem scatterbrained, but the mix of vocal styles makes for charming harmonies amid mostly enjoyable hooks. God Don't Make No Junk might be a little more charming and The Rebel's Not In might be better produced and more melodic, but Don't Tell Me Now has more than a few diamonds in its rough. It might be smart to note that each album contains a contraction in its title, as the fractured nature of the music suggests a similar fusing of two styles: Johnson's arch wit with Martsch's brave sonic force and heartfelt emotion. Don't Tell Me Now isn't a great rock & roll album, but it's as fun to listen to as it must have been to record.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Steve Hauschildt


New limited edition solo album from Steve Hauschildt, dedicated to the Isley Brothers (?!)Critique of the Beautiful.. This is one of Steve’s most straightforwardly beautiful keyboard sets, with the kind of haunting, melancholy melodies of early Asmus Tietchens given treatments of rolling fuzz and choirs of heavenly synth. Somewhere between the devotional electronics of early Kraut thinkers like Harmonia, Cluster and Klaus Schulze and the technicolour drone work of UK outfits like Sunroof and Ashtray Navigations, this is a stunning set and comes with full-colour sleeve art by Steve.

City Center


Although this eponymous album may be the debut from occasional New Yorker Fred Thomas, he's far from a newcomer to the scene. Rather he has spent most of his life in search of the perfect pop music, first as the frontman/mastermind of Saturday Looks Good To Me and now under his oddly monikered solo project. Apparently the name comes from European tours where the sign 'City Center' was such a regular (and reliable) sight, but gives few clues to the unknown pleasures held within Fred's music.

Taking cues from the skewed pop music of Arthur Russell on one side and Brian Wilson by way of Panda Bear on the other, Fred has channelled an outsider pop masterwork. Thick waves of decomposing electronics and processed instruments (is it gamelan? Is it something else altogether?) crash and fizz beneath Fred's singular chanting vocals. There's a sense that someone, somewhere might be singing along to these songs, but hearing them on mainstream radio might be pushing it a little too far. Sandwiched in-between three-minute pop marvels such as opener 'Killer Whale' and the stand-out 'Summer School' are extended ambient experimentations, but unlike the occasionally academic workouts you might expect from Type these feel organic and distinctly home-brewed.

There is something magical about Fred Thomas's distinct and original musical creations, something that grabs you and won't let go. We're not entirely certain what that is but we're sure if you give City Center a try you'll feel exactly the same as we do. Pop music has rarely sounded so warm or quite so open hearted...

Waylon Jennings


Even though Waylon Jennings virtually disowned this album as a hoodwink job by RCA brass and some of these tracks were unfinished and others mere demos, Ladies Love Outlaws nonetheless has some very fine moments, including Jennings' version of "Delta Dawn," a fine emotionally wrought read of Hoyt Axton's "Never Been to Spain" (which Jennings claimed was never intended for release), and Mickey Newbury's "Frisco Depot" (one of the few tracks the singer considered complete). In addition, there's Ralph Mooney's (who plays pedal steel in this band) classic honky tonk anthem "Crazy Arms" and one of the reclusive Lee Clayton's best songs in the title track. Listeners also get a solid, moving duet version of "Under Your Spell Again," with Jessi Colter. These performances offer Jennings in deeply expressive terrain as a vocalist. He wrings emotion from songs rather than merely projecting them into a microphone, and his band, which includes bassist Norbert Putnam and drummer Kenny Butrey as well as guitarist Dave Kirby and pianist Hargus Robbins, turns the volume up a point or two and lends a slippery greasy hand to the entire proceeding. Ladies Love Outlaws is not a perfect Waylon album, but it's worth owning for the fact that while Jennings may have disliked the finished result, he proves to be no judge of his own work. In essence, this is the outlaw primer, and the beginning of the opening of the field.

D. Lissvik


As half of Sweden's foremost Balearic revivalists Studio, Dan Lissvik's already well known for poolside dance music that's more horizontally than vertically designed. But where Yearbook 1 and this year's remix collection Yearbook 2 found shape around the duo's bouncy, dub-infected rhythms, Lissvik's debut solo album 7 Trx + Intermission is, fittingly, more a one-man quest: a work intent on musically recreating a sense of beatific solitude.

Without vocals and with track numbers over titles, Lissvik foregoes Studio's emphasis on trance-clatter and repetition. In their place are rippling Factory Records guitars, the barest rhythms and a decidedly Eastern-influenced spiritualism, making for an album that nurtures the spare and serene. He draws shapes and symbols in the sand out of lean, serpentine guitars, each open to the listener's angle of sight. Without partner Rasmus Hägg's synth shading, Lissvik's imagery is fit more for the desert than the beach, designed around great clean spaces without people or moving things to distract, just sound and silence in an odd tandem.

Despite the emphasis on his ruminative side though, Lissvik hasn't completely neglected his band's taste for big-eyed joy. The album's longest excursion, "A3," shifts from boat holiday guitars into a breezy freeway spin atop hand drums and brawny bass, while "A4" makes easy Saturday night disco out of electronic piano and jaunty wood-cowbell rhythms, a kind of polyester anthem as cheap and delightfully fruitful as its opening chords suggest. "B2" best resembles Studio's knack for the hypnotic strut though; Lissvik filters quiet Eastern tones into a wanderer's dance jam, alternating the dim and contemplative with a more open-collared bass heavy approach.

But it's clear that Lissvik's relying on open-vista psychedelia to carry the mood for most of 7 Trx + Intermission. "A1" turns a Spanish guitar intro into a curtain parting for a Sergio Leone film—one of the tense train depot scenes before all hell breaks loose—while "A2" is dressed in enough vague mysticism and candle-lit ambience for an early Doors track. "B1" makes for a kind of mystical Bazaar interlude, swapping out Villalobos' ethnic playgrounding for more solitary spoils. Blending tropical bird noises and what sound like sampled hand-drum patterns into a calm morning alarm that might gently coax you from your sleep, it's "B3" that generates quite a spell for such short length.

For a member of a band that's always relied so heavily on the intoxication of repetition, this assured short-form design sometimes feels like a welcome new direction. After all: Yearbook 3 is probably still at least a year away. While we wait, Lissvik's solo debut marks not so much a holding pattern as a distraction well worth our winter attention on its own.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Kinks



Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Although they weren't as boldly innovative as the Beatles or as popular as the Rolling Stones or the Who, the Kinks were one of the most influential bands of the British Invasion. Like most bands of their era, the Kinks began as an R&B/blues outfit. Within four years, the band had become the most staunchly English of all their contemporaries, drawing heavily from British music hall and traditional pop, as well as incorporating elements of country, folk, and blues.

Throughout their long, varied career, the core of the Kinks remained Ray (born June 21, 1944) and Dave Davies (born February 3, 1947), who were born and raised in Muswell Hill, London. In their teens, the brothers began playing skiffle and rock & roll. Soon, the brothers recruited a schoolmate of Ray's, Peter Quaife, to play with them; like the Davies brothers, Quaife played guitar, but he switched to bass. By the summer of 1963, the group had decided to call itself the Ravens and had recruited a new drummer, Mickey Willet. Eventually, their demo tape reached Shel Talmy, an American record producer who was under contract to Pye Records. Talmy helped the band land a contract with Pye in 1964. Before signing to the label, the Ravens replaced drummer Willet with Mick Avory.

The Ravens recorded their debut single, a cover of Little Richard's "Long Tall Sally," in January 1964. Before the single was released, the group changed their name to the Kinks. "Long Tall Sally" was released in February of 1964 and it failed to chart, as did their second single, "You Still Want Me." The band's third single, "You Really Got Me," was much noisier and dynamic, featuring a savage, fuzz-toned two-chord riff and a frenzied solo from Dave Davies. Not only was the final version the blueprint for the Kinks' early sound, but scores of groups used the heavy, power chords as a foundation. "You Really Got Me" reached number one within a month of its release; released on Reprise in the U.S., the single climbed into the Top Ten. "All Day and All of the Night," the group's fourth single, was released late in 1964 and it rose all the way to number two; in America, it hit number seven. During this time, the band also produced two full-length albums and several EPs.

Not only was the group recording at a breakneck pace, they were touring relentlessly, as well, which caused much tension within the band. At the conclusion of their summer 1965 American tour, the Kinks were banned from re-entering the United States by the American government for unspecified reasons. For four years, the Kinks were prohibited from returning to the U.S., which not only meant that the group was deprived of the world's largest music market, but that they were effectively cut off from the musical and social upheavals of the late '60s. Consequently, Ray Davies' songwriting grew more introspective and nostalgic, relying more on overtly English musical influences such as music hall, country, and English folk, than the rest of his British contemporaries. The Kinks' next album, The Kinks Kontroversy, demonstrated the progression in Davies' songwriting. "Sunny Afternoon" was one of Davies' wry social satires and the song was the biggest hit of the summer of 1966 in the U.K., reaching number one. "Sunny Afternoon" was a teaser for the band's great leap forward, Face to Face, a record that featured a vast array of musical styles. In May of 1967, they returned with "Waterloo Sunset," a ballad that reached number two in the U.K. in the spring of 1967. Released in the fall of 1967, Something Else continued the progressions of Face to Face. Despite the Kinks' musical growth, their chart performance was beginning to stagnate. Following the lackluster performance of Something Else, the Kinks rushed out a new single, "Autumn Almanac," which became another big U.K. hit for the band. Released in the spring of 1968, the Kinks' "Wonderboy" was the band's first single not to crack the Top Ten since "You Really Got Me." They recovered somewhat with "Days," but the band's commercial decline was evident by the lack of success of The Village Green Preservation Society.

Released in the fall of 1968, Village Green Preservation Society was the culmination of Ray Davies' increasingly nostalgic tendencies. While the album was unsuccessful, it was well received by critics, particularly in the U.S.

Peter Quaife soon grew tired of the band's lack of success, and he left the band by the end of the year, being replaced by John Dalton. In early 1969, the American ban upon the Kinks was lifted, leaving the band free to tour the U.S. for the first time in four years. Before they began the tour, the Kinks released Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Like its two predecessors, Arthur contained distinctly British lyrical and musical themes, but it was a modest success. As they were recording the follow-up to Arthur, the Kinks expanded their lineup to include keyboardist John Gosling. The first appearance of Gosling on a Kinks record was "Lola." Featuring a harder rock foundation than their last few singles, "Lola" was a Top Ten hit in both the U.K. and the U.S. Released in the fall of 1970, Lola Versus Powerman and the Money-Go-Round, Part One was their most successful record since the mid-'60s in both the U.S. and U.K., helping the band become concert favorites in the U.S.

The band's contract with Pye/Reprise expired in early 1971, leaving the Kinks free to pursue a new record contract. By the end of 1971, the Kinks had secured a five-album deal with RCA Records, which brought them a million dollar advance. Released in late 1971, Muswell Hillbillies, the group's first album for RCA, marked a return to the nostalgia of the Kinks' late-'60s albums, only with more pronounced country and music hall influences. The album failed to be the commercial blockbuster RCA had hoped for. A few months after the release of Muswell Hillbillies, Reprise released a double-album compilation called The Kink Kronikles, which outsold their RCA debut. Everybody's in Showbiz (1973), a double-record set consisting of one album of studio tracks and another of live material, was a disappointment in the U.K., although the album was more successful in the U.S.

In 1973, Ray Davies composed a full-blown rock opera called Preservation. When the first installment of the opera finally appeared in late 1973, it was harshly criticized and given a cold reception from the public. Act 2 appeared in the summer of 1974; the sequel received worse treatment than its predecessor. Davies began another musical, Starmaker, for the BBC; the project eventually metamorphosed into Soap Opera, which was released in the spring of 1975. Despite poor reviews, Soap Opera was a more commercially successful record than its predecessor. In 1976, the Kinks recorded Davies' third straight rock opera, Schoolboys in Disgrace, which rocked harder than any album they released on RCA.

During 1976, the Kinks left RCA and signed with Arista Records. On Arista, the band refashioned themselves as a hard rock band. Bassist John Dalton left the group near the completion of their debut Arista album; he was replaced by Andy Pyle. Sleepwalker, the Kinks' first album for Arista, became a major hit in the U.S. As the band was completing the follow-up to Sleepwalker, Pyle left the group and was replaced by the returning Dalton. Misfits, the band's second Arista album, was also a U.S. success. After a British tour, Dalton left the band again, along with keyboardist John Gosling; bassist Jim Rodford and keyboardist Gordon Edwards filled the vacancies. Soon, the band was playing arenas in the United States. Even though punk rockers like the Jam and the Pretenders were covering Kinks songs in the late '70s, the group was becoming more blatantly commercial with each release, culminating in the heavy rock of Low Budget (1979), which became the group's biggest American success, peaking at number 11. The Kinks' next album, Give the People What They Want, appeared in late 1981; the record peaked at number 15 and went gold. For most of 1982, the band was on tour. In spring of 1983, "Come Dancing" became the group's biggest American hit since "Tired of Waiting for You," thanks to the video's repeated exposure on MTV; in the U.S., the song peaked at number six, in the U.K. it climbed to number 12. State of Confusion followed the release of "Come Dancing," and it was another success, peaking at number 12 in the U.S. For the remainder of 1983, Ray Davies worked on a film project, Return to Waterloo, which caused considerable tension between himself and his brother. Instead of breaking up, the Kinks merely reshuffled their lineup, but there was a major casualty: Mick Avory, the band's drummer for 20 years, was fired and replaced by Bob Henrit. As Ray finished post-production duties on Return to Waterloo, he wrote the next Kinks album, Word of Mouth. Released in late 1984, the album was similar in tone to the last few Kinks records, but it was a commercial disappointment and began a period of decline for the band; they never released another record that cracked the Top 40.

Word of Mouth was the last album they would record for Arista Records. In early 1986, the band signed with MCA Records in the U.S., London in the U.K. Think Visual, their first album for their new label, was released in late 1986. It was a mild success but there were no hit singles from the record. The following year, the Kinks released another live album, appropriately titled The Road, which spent a brief time on the charts. Two years later, the Kinks released their last studio record for MCA, UK Jive. During 1989, keyboardist Ian Gibbons left the band. The Kinks were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1990, but the induction did not help revive their career. In 1991, a compilation of their MCA records, Lost & Found (1986-1989), appeared, signalling that their contract with the label had expired. Later in the year, the band signed with Columbia Records and released an EP called Did Ya, which didn't chart. The Kinks' first album for Columbia, Phobia, arrived in 1993 to fair reviews but poor sales. By this time, only Ray and Dave Davies remained from the original lineup. In 1994, the band was dropped from Columbia Records, leaving the group to release the live To the Bone on an independent label in the U.K.; the band was left without a record label in the U.S.

Despite a lack of commercial success, the band's public profile began to rise in 1995, as the group was hailed as an influence on several of the most popular British bands of the decade, including Blur and Oasis. Ray Davies was soon on popular television shows again, acting as these band's godfather and promoting his autobiography, X-Ray, which was published in early 1995 in the U.K. Dave Davies' autobiography, Kink, was published in the spring of 1996.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Deniece Williams


Deniece Williams spent the first half of the '70s establishing herself as a background vocalist for an impressive line of artists, including Stevie Wonder, Minnie Riperton, Roberta Flack, and Esther Phillips. Though she'd continue to do session work throughout her career, she also became accomplished as a solo artist. Unfortunately, a lot of people think she came out of nowhere for 1984's "Let's Hear It for the Boy," a number one pop hit, but she was making excellent albums as early as 1976. The songs that would eventually make up her debut, This Is Niecy, were sent to Earth, Wind & Fire. Williams didn't intend to make her own album and thought these songs would be a good fit for Philip Bailey. Instead, she got to record them with most of EW&F, including Maurice White and Charles Stepney as producers, Verdine White on bass, Freddie White on drums, those glorious horns, and several other associates of the group. Three of the album's seven songs were released as singles, and they're all stunners, each with its own mood and style (fittingly, one peaked on the disco chart, one hit the Top 30 of the pop chart, and one scraped the black singles chart). The best of the lot is "Free," a subtle but powerful sparkler that expressed Williams' desire to break from the more traditional lifestyle that had been mapped out for her. Out of everything she recorded, this low-key song demonstrates most how her time with Riperton and Syreeta rubbed off on her, showing how a bedroom whisper can be just as affecting as an in-the-red wail. Also containing strong album cuts, This Is Niecy is a great complement to Earth, Wind & Fire's Spirit, released the same year -- not only for its overlapping personnel, but also for its greatness.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ass


Over the past years Andreas Söderström has played bass with multi-awarded pop genius Jenny Wilson, trumpet and lap-steel with the international renowned electronica-project Tape, and harmonium, key harp and guitar with contemporary folk/rock-combos as Barr, Pallin and Blood Music. Now is the time for one of Sweden’s most brilliant music minds to do his own thing: Ass – Andreas Söderström Solo, after a decade of talented but neglected living room recordings.

Ass debut album is a beautiful, mainly instrumental, folktronic journey, that probably started amongst “a jungle of strings” in his father’s bouzoki factory when Andreas was a child. Playing, of course, all instruments himself, he has given himself freedom to stretch out (and in) as it suited him. A lot of magic moments are collected here by this self-taught music man. But the interesting thing about Ass is the wholeness of it. Even though it is driven by “small” minimalistic musical ideas, or hymn-like melodies, it is the big picture that impresses. Andreas also sings on two majestic, but low keyed-tunes; Two Different Ways and Don’t You Tell A Word, with an almost melting voice, a crossover between a Thurston Moore and Jim O’Rourke

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jubilee Singers




The Jubilee Singers are from Pasadena,California. They used to be called No Little Kindness. Their s/t record is by far one of the best releases I have heard from a local band here in Southern California in a long time. Please go see them play live if you ever have the chance. you won't regret it!

Monday, May 04, 2009

The Temptations


Best known for their silky soul vocals and smooth-stepping routines, the Temptations were firmly entrenched as the undisputed kings of Barry Gordy's Motown stable when cutting-edge producer Norman Whitfield walked into the studio and announced that it was time to shake things up. The resulting freakout became the first half of the stellar Cloud Nine, an album that would become one of the defining early funk sets, with songs that not only took Motown in a new direction, but helped to shape a genre as well. On one side and across three jams, Whitfield and the Temptations would give '70s-era funk musicians a broad palette from which to draw inspiration. The title track, with its funky soul bordering on psychedelic frenzy, was an audacious album opener, and surely gave older fans a moment's pause. Only two more songs rounded out side one: an incredibly fresh take on "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," which jazzed up the vocals, brought compelling percussion to the fore, and relegated the piano well into the wings, and "Run Away Child, Running Wild," an extravagant nine-minute groove where the sonics easily surpassed the vocals. After shaking up the record-buying public with these three masterpieces, the Temptations brought things back to form for side two. Here, their gorgeous vocals dominated slick arrangements across seven tracks which included "Hey Girl" and the masterful "I Need Your Lovin'." Funk continued to percolate -- albeit subtly -- but compared to side one, it was Temptations business as usual. It was this return to the classic sound, however, which ultimately gave Cloud Nine its odd dynamic. The dichotomy of form between old and new between sides doesn't allow for a continuous gel. But the brash experimentation away from traditional Motown on the three seminal tracks which open the disc shattered the doorway between past and present as surely as the decade itself imploded and smooth soul gave way to blistering funk.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Wedding Present


From the start, Cinerama was not a drastic diversion from the Wedding Present. David Gedge rounded off whatever remaining edges were left in the Weddoes' sound and developed a crack chamber pop group. Softer songs off Watusi and Saturnalia, such as "Catwoman," "2, 3 Go," and "Real Thing," dropped hints. Gedge's gruff yelps vanished, replaced by bedroom whispers; roaring electric guitars were swapped out for delicate acoustic strums, with extensive use of strings, brass, woodwinds, and keyboards. After Cinerama released their first album, they began to sound more and more like the Wedding Present, to the point where the two groups were virtually indistinguishable from one another. In 2004, Gedge and his associates began recording the fourth Cinerama album with Watusi producer Steve Fisk and resurfaced instead with the sixth Wedding Present album. To no surprise, Take Fountain sounds just like Cinerama and the Wedding Present. Opener "Interstate 5" gets it across right off the bat, its first six minutes an effectively repetitive chugging groove that shifts into a drifting hybrid of Ennio Morricone and John Barry for the final two minutes -- a bracing zip up the West Coast turns into a restful gondola ride alongside an Italian village. From then on, the album is populated by a range of three- to four-minute pop songs that you're accustomed to hearing from Gedge. For every hushed, playful passage, there's an explosive chorus, and for every verse dealing with some form of romantic frustration, there's...a bunch of romantically frustrated verses. Most songs are of the standard that made Gedge one of the most loved indie figures of the '80s and '90s, though the bluntly sexual phrasings that repelled George Best/Tommy-era fans from Watusi, Saturnalia, and everything released by Cinerama remain. Take Fountain is a solid Wedding Present album, one that will satisfy those who have been following Gedge all along. (As an important footnote, the Wedding Present name was reactivated in time to record one final Peel Session before John Peel's passing in October of 2004.)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Dino Felipe


Previously know for his electronic work with Miami's Schematic label and his experimental records on his own and with others (Old Bombs, Fukktron,etc) this time Dino stares right at the ghost of his MTV dreams childhood years and comes out of it with the most beautiful record of well put together songs you'll hear this year. A full instrumented record of pop rock, ballads, psychedelia, no-wave, rock noise and total mutations injected with Dino's own unique approach. This is the pop music of the present, and a recording shooting to change the future.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Crime & The City Solution


Starting with "The Shadow of No Man," the band's zoned atmospherics accentuated by both a nicely grimy keyboard drone and brisk pace, Crime & the City Solution continue carving its own strange path. The same lineup from Shine reappears here -- keyboardist Chris Haas appears only as an auxiliary member, but still adds to the music here and there, while Mick Harvey doubtless contributes most of the organ work. Simon Bonney continues to evolve into more of his own man -- if anything, he's embracing country and western more explicitly in his singing style, where Nick Cave would prefer blues and Vegas-style show tunes. He takes over the lion's share of the lyrics this time as well, again working with the mix of sometimes cryptic, sometimes concrete imagery of empty landscapes, forlorn towns, ill-lit city streets and the people who live there. In terms of performance, the lineup carries out its shadowy brief well once again -- Alexander Hacke sounds a little more integrated into the mix than before, as well as a touch more prominent, while Harvey's peerless drumming remains a delight. Bronwyn Adams, meanwhile, still performs her violin with skill and haunting style. A number of interesting approaches surface -- consider the deeply funky guitar/keyboard intro to "Stone," which gives the track a major boost of power as well as nicely sitting apart from the band's usual approach. The second half of the album consists of a suite of songs called "The Bride Ship," starting with the track of that name and continuing through "Free World" and "New World." Bonney sometimes sounds far more like Cave than ever, but otherwise, it's a dramatic convolution of everything from Moby Dick to modern apocalypse, with appropriately doom-laden backing. The CD version includes B-side -- "Three/Four," an okay enough track, and an alternate take on "The Bridge Ship."

The Fates


The Fates (Una Baines', ex-Fall/Blue Orchids) This collection of Celtic folk-flavoured songs, originally inspired by tales of white witchcraft through the ages, it's a pleasant enough gathering offlutes, percussion, poems, laments, vocal harmonies and acoustic guitars from a group of nine women. Ignore the Linder-type off-putting cover and delve inside to become gently bewitched by the melodic, mystical spell of this frail, proud music. Old hippies all? Maybe, but you don't need to be loud to be worth hearing. Possibly the two poems on Side Two, 'Who Am I?' and 'Ritual', slip over into pretentiousness with their 'atmospheric' backgrounds and monosyllabic vocals. But in the main, as Laurie Lee might put it, "this music has something of the quality of charm; radiance, balance and harmony."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Crescent


After a string of promising singles, Crescent took the full plunge with Now, at once very much of its place and time -- the mid-nineties Bristol avant-garde rock scene -- and making its own fierce stamp on things. Matt Jones is again main mover and vocalist, though his influence as distinct from the rest of his bandmates is hard to specifically distinguish, especially as the songs as a whole are credited to Crescent rather than any individual. Recorded in a two day session, the material shows signs of both a careful arrangement -- witness the exquisite tension between loud and soft on opening track "Sun," reappearing from the self-titled EP -- and a free 'see what happens' approach. If Crescent on Now is close to any of its sister bands in particular, it might be Amp, but instead of that band's often blissful if dark drone, heightened by lovely female vocals, Crescent are rougher, more brusque. Jones' speak-singing is often delivered in a semi-snarl, not really intelligible at many points, while the moody groove the band creates even at its calmest seems laden with a hint of threat. Sudden changes and surprises -such as Jones' burst into screams on "Song," leading to his hoarse delivery on the increasingly chaotic "Exit" and then the quiet acoustic strum "New Sun" -- keep Now from being entirely predictable. The unclean, commercially unfriendly production helps all the more, but it's not just simply style over substance -- it brings out the music in ways a crisper approach would have lost. More than once the feeling is of extended psych jams a la Spacemen 3, but with a less formal tone -- thus "Third Light Home," with its extended soloing, gently rolling drums and Jones' low-key murmuring up front.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Meanderthals



Apparently Norway's Rune Lindbaek and London's Idjut Boys formed a soft rock group. There are steel drums and huge clouds of misty echo to cut through on "Kunst Or Ars," the opening track to next month's Desire Lines on Smalltown Supersound. What's happening in Europe? Do you think minimal techno fans have gotten to a point where they are over tininess and want something tender yet expansive? Like going to the expensive mattress store and trying everything out, being polite to the salespeople and feeling the way the different pressures nestle your back and neck. They don't want to sleep on a plump futon anymore. The days are dark enough. Meanderthals soothe.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Hollywood, Mon Amour


Introduction by Marc Collin
Rock and pop have reached and passed the ripe old age of 50... yes, they've aged and now seem to be retracing their steps somewhat to their golden past.

Like Nouvelle Vague, Hollywood, Mon Amour revisits a genre, a period, retaining only the basic skeleton of the songs (melody and lyrics) to demonstrate that by arranging them differently they can take on a new life while still respecting the original. The titles are, certainly for my generation, classics in their genre.

For this project my attention was drawn to the songs featured in the movies of the 80s, those mainly produced in Hollywood... strangely enough, you come across quite a lot of bands from the post punk era whose success led them to writing songs for feature films... Blondie comes to mind, Simple Minds, The Human league, Duran Duran and their godfather, David Bowie. Even if all these songs were a huge success, and will always remain classics, nowadays they suffer from having that typical end of the 80s sound which isn't any longer of our times.

John Barry is hailed by one and all for the film music he composed in the 60s, 70s right up until the 90s, and while Diamonds are Forever or Goldfinger are the first songs that spring to mind, what about A View to A Kill, written like the others for a Bond film in '85 and performed by Duran Duran? Barry's musical star has certainly not waned since then, it's still there, possibly hidden somewhat by (perhaps) a little too much make-up. So, let's imagine what A View to A Kill would have sounded like if Barry had produced it 10 years earlier...

Well, here is not history revisited, but a part of musical history rewritten that all came about while rearranging the songs from the movies of the 80s, each time imagining a different story and a different era. For the project I surrounded myself with the finest voices I have had the pleasure to come across recently: Skye, Juliette Lewis, Cibelle, Yael Naim, Dea Li, Katrine Ottosen, Nadeah, Leelou,Nancy Danino, Bianca Calandra ...

Hollywood, Mon Amour (some people will undoubtedly see an allusion to French cinema here), is a collection of the greatest songs from the movies of the 80s rearranged by Marc Collin, Nouvelle Vague's producer.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Gentleman Losers

Gold Dust Afternoon


The new Gentleman Losers record is beautiful. Imagine a soundtrack of loss and hope and you get the picture. Dustland came into my life the other day and now I have a soundtrack that is perfect for those long walks when I try to figure it all out. Breathtaking stuff!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mazzy Star



Thanks to the fluke hit "Fade Into You" -- one of the better beneficiaries of alt-rock's radio prominence in the early '90s, a gentle descent of a lead melody accompanied by piano, a steady beat, and above all else, Hope Sandoval's lovely lead vocal -- Mazzy Star's second album became something of a commercial success. All without changing much at all from where the band was before -- David Roback oversaw all the production, the core emphasis remained a nexus point between country, folk, psych, and classic rock all shrouded in mystery, and Sandoval's trademark drowsy drawl remained swathed in echo. But grand as She Hangs Brightly was, So Tonight That I Might See remains the group's undisputed high point, mixing in plenty of variety among its tracks without losing sight of what made the group so special to begin with. Though many songs work with full arrangements like "Fade Into You," a thick but never once overpowering combination, two heavily stripped-down songs demonstrate in different ways how Mazzy Star makes a virtue out of simplicity. "Mary of Silence" is an organ-led slow shuffle that easily ranks with the best of the Doors, strung-out and captivating all at once, Sandoval's singing and Roback's careful acid soloing perfect foils. "Wasted," meanwhile, revisits a classic blues riff slowed down to near-soporific levels, but the snarling crunch of Roback's guitar works wonders against Sandoval's vocals, a careful balance that holds. If there's a left-field standout, then unquestionably it's "Five String Serenade." A cover of an Arthur Lee song -- for once not a Love-era number, but a then-recent effort -- Roback's delicate acoustic guitar effortlessly brings out its simple beauty. Tambourine and violin add just enough to the arrangement here and there, and Sandoval's calm singing makes for the icing on the cake.
by Ned Raggett

Monday, March 30, 2009

A Mix of Spring 2009




I have been asked a lot recently what i am listening to. So here you go!

1. Pink Mountaintops - Axis: Thrones of Love
2. Wooden Shjips - Motorbike
3. Whitetree - Tangerine
4. Valet - Rainbow (Boris)
5. Glen Johnson - Les Catacombes
6. The Wooden Birds - Afternoon In Bed (The Bats)
7. Stuart Murdoch - Another Saturday
8. Au Revoir Simone - The Last One
9. Bill Callahan - Faith/Void
10.St. Vincent And The National - Sleep All Summer (Crooked Fingers)
11.Great Lake Swimmers - River's Edge
12.Total & Notorious B.I.G. - Can't You See
13.Subway - Crystalline
14.Lindstrom and Prins Thomas - gudene vet + snutt

Have A Great Week!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Wackness-Music From the Motion Picture


The Wackness is a coming of age story about sex, drugs, music and what it takes to be a man. NYC in the summer of 1994. Girls were fly, the music was dope, the heat was on and Luke was just trying to deal. The soundtrack features classic period hip hop and R&B tracks from legendary Hip Hop icons like Wu-Tang Clan, Nas, A Tribe Called Quest, KRS-One, D.J. Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince, R. Kelly and more. Starring Josh Peck, Ben Kingsley, Famke Janssen, Olivia Thirlby, Mary Kate Olsen and Method Man. The Wackness tells the story of a troubled teenage drug dealer who trades pot for therapy sessions with a drug addled psychiatrist. Things get more complicated when the kid falls for one of his classmates, who just happens to be the doctor's daughter. Set against the backdrop of the greatest year in Hip Hop history.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grouper


Portland, Oregon based Liz Harris might have achieved a significant fan base thanks to the whispering, near ambient vocal crusades of her debut album ‘Way Their Crept’ and its follow-up ‘Wide’, but those with a careful ear would have heard slightly more trapped beneath her fuzzy chain of effects. ‘Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill’ marks a departure of sorts for Liz which sees her turn down the fuzz-boxes which caged (and to some degree defined) her sound and allows her voice to ring out above everything else. It is an album steeped in the world of dream-pop, a genre pioneered by the likes of 4AD’s Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil, and far from shy away from the reference Liz has instead grabbed on with both hands, in the process creating an album’s worth of perfect, leftfield pop songs.
Using delicate song structures which are at once both familiar and alien somehow we hear her words cry out hauntingly over stripped down guitar lines and looped environmental recordings. Just listen to ‘I’d Rather be Sleeping’, a track that could be a mournful take on Belly, albeit with a more fragile heart. These unforgettable harmonies and vocal lines that embed themselves in your consciousness before you even realise it are the key to the album’s success and the reason why it makes such a lasting impression. There is something to Liz Harris’s music that defies the time, makes you sit up and listen in an age where we’re told that recorded music is disposable. These are the future soundtracks to love, despair and ultimately hope.

Eddie Callahan


"False Ego" 1976 (Ocean)

This wonderful album has been described as “loner rock,” an interesting distinction since so many of these thoughtful, quirky songwriters make folk records that, um, don’t rock. Within about two minutes of the first song, I was eternally hooked. It starts abruptly, almost in the middle of a conversation with Eddie, acoustic guitar in hand, asking some of life’s bigger questions to an unnamed echoed respondent. After a few verses, the rhythm section comes in, followed by the most perfectly realized batch of synthesizer noises you’ll ever hear. The songs ends in waves of sound effects and at this point you’ll already be ready to proclaim Eddie a genius. The good news is that most of the album keeps pace, with gorgeous pop (“Just Across The Line”), power pop with backwards guitar (“Don’t You Know”), stunning acid rock (“Paper Rain”) with a Stranglers-type synth break, and all sorts of surprises. This album has a timeless quality, like the very best pop, and only the talk box on one song places it firmly in 1975/1976. Otherwise it could just as likely have been from 1970 or 1979, and in fact has a bit of a new wave feel to it. It’s not exactly “psych” or “power pop,” and genre fans might not be sure what to make of it, but it’s just plain too good for classification. Even a music hall ditty with comic snyth bleats and a funky rock song with a talk box manage to work. Callahan is a Hare Krishna, which explains the mystical questioning of many of the lyrics. He’s also a bit of a chameleon, sounding like three or four different singers over the course of the album (which, along with the unusual arrangements, makes this album fresh and unpredictable in ways few pop albums are.) The last three songs are a bit of a let down, as they’re merely good. If they had been as good as the rest for the album, it would be an eternal masterpiece. As it is, it’s still one of the finest and most distinctive private press albums I’ve ever heard. Great album cover, too (despite being a cheap paste-on), and an even better label design.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Henrik Schwarz, Âme & Dixon


When we first started thinking about the compilation, we had in mind the idea to put together a great minimal techno selection with stuff from the early 90s, which really inspired us, like Robert Hood, Dan Bell, Plastikman, Pansonic and Mike Ink to name a few. Whilst working on the project we had the feeling that there is so much more great and influential minimal music from way before the techno thing started.

So we were very excited to combine the music from the electronic pioneers, with the tracks from the minimal techno godfathers in a very modern way. In Minimal Music there is so much (space) in between the sounds and the space that gives you a lot of opportunities for an own interpretation.

The Grandfather Paradox is a scientific theory about time travelling and was first described by the science fiction writer Rene Barjavel in his book - Le Voyageur Imprudent. We took suggestions out of that because we felt like we are travelling back in time and manipulating the old music with modern knowledge. The fact that we did all this with the deserved respect to the originals makes us quite sure that the results are bringing something new and interesting to the old tracks and transport the past into the here and now.

Henrik Schwarz, Âme & Dixon

Tracklisting 2xCD release:

CD1: Mixed by Henrik Schwarz, Âme & Dixon

01. Steve Reich & Pat Metheny
Electric Counterpoint - Fast (Movement 3)

02. Etienne Jaumet
Repeat After Me (Âme Mix)

03. Kenneth Bager
Fragment Eleven… The Day After Yesturday Pt.1

04. Liquid Liquid
Lock Groove (Out)

05. Cymande
For Baby Oh

06. Patrick Moraz
Metamorphoses 1st Movement (Live)

07. To Rococo Rot
Testfeld

08. Matematics
Blue Water

09. I:CUBE
Acid Tablet

10. Ø
Atomit

11. Conrad Schnitzler
Electrocon 11

12. Green Pickles feat. Billy Lo & M. Pittman
Feedback

13. La Funk Mob
Motor Bass Gets Phunked Up (Richie Hawtin's Electrophunk Mix)

14. John Carpenter
The President Is Gone

15. Yusef Lateef
The Three Faces Of Bala

16. Robert Hood
Minus

17. Raymond Scott
Bass-Line Generator

18. Moondog
Invocation


CD2: Un-Mixed


01. Conrad Schnitzler
Elektrocon 11

02. Steve Reich & Pat Metheny
Electric Counterpoint - Fast (Movement 3)

03. Liquid Liquid
Lock Groove (Out)

04. To Rococo Rot
Testfeld

05. Patrick Moraz
Metamorphoses 1st Movement (Live)

06. Young Marble Giants
N.i.t.a

07. Kenneth Bager
Fragment Eleven… The Day After Yesturday Pt.1

08. Arthur Russell
Make 1,2

09. John Carpenter
The President Is Gone

10. Robert Hood
Minus

11. Raymond Scott
Bass-Line Generator

12. Pyrolator
November Mühlheim

13. Cymande
For Baby Oh

14. Can
Sunday Jam

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

WhiteTree


Ludovico Einaudi: piano Robert Lippok: electronics Ronald Lippok: drums Inspired and named after a very special, paradise-like retreat in Amos Tutuola’s novel ” The Palm-Wine Drinkard“, the album is the cosiest pair of french mittens, helping to withstand the cold and fast pulse of our technology-driven times. Think about it: ”Cloudland" is not the first effort to merge electronics with classical music. Far from it. Carsten Nicolai worked with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Carl Craig and Moritz von Oswald inject Ravel's Bolero with a techno twist, a whole new generation of musicians is as comfortable with a laptop as with classical instruments. Yet brave and remarkable efforts, Cloudland brings across a playfullness, a looseness and broadness which makes the album something unique.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Skyramps


Skyramps is Mark McGuire and Daniel Lopatin. This record "Days of Thunder" was limited to 75 copies. I heard this was a tribute to Top Gun? All I know is that you will not find a better record than this in 2009.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Johan Agebjorn



While he is best known as the creative force behind the popular electronica dance project Sally Shapiro, Johan Agebjörn proves on Mossebo that he is not afraid of the darker and deeper spaces. Indeed, Mossebo evokes human warmth in a wintry landscape, expertly juxtaposing intimacy and isolation.

Named after the house in which Johan lived while composing and recording the album, Mossebo is a collection of ambient pieces composed between 2004 and 2007; and one additional track that was created in 1996.

With the stunning wordless vocals of Lisa Barra skillfully winding their way through many of Agebjörn’s dazzling synth compositions, Mossebo is an album that is both electronic and organic at its core. Barra’s passion for the folk music of different cultures lends a timeless quailty to the album that transcends the conventional limits of most modern electronic ambient music.

Milieu



This was quietly announced for a preorder a month ago, and now this long-awaited Milieu CD-R is officially released and shipping! For those of you who dig the flavor of Milieu records like Our Blue Rainbow or New Drugs - get this one! Loads of psychedelic grooves over a 10 track/forty minute disc. Think absolute LSD melody overload!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Monks


One of the strangest stories in rock history, the Monks were formed in the early '60s by American G.I.s stationed in Germany. After their discharge, the group stayed on in Germany as the Torquays, a fairly standard beat band. After changing their name to the Monks in the mid-'60s, they also changed their music, attitude, and appearance radically. Gone were standard oldie covers, replaced by furious, minimalist original material that anticipated the blunt, harsh commentary of the punk era. Their insistent rhythms recalled martial beats and polkas as much as garage rock, and the weirdness quotient was heightened by electric banjo, berserk organ runs, and occasional bursts of feedback guitar. To prove that they meant business, the Monks shaved the top of their heads and performed their songs -- crude diatribes about the Vietnam war, dehumanized society, and love/hate affairs with girls -- in actual monks' clothing.

This was pretty strong stuff for 1966 Germany, and their shocking repertoire and attire were received with more confusion than hostility or warm praise. Well known in Germany as a live act, their sole album and several singles didn't take off in a big way and were never released in the U.S., it was rumored, because the lyrical content was deemed too shocking. They disbanded in confusion around 1967, but their album -- one of the most oddball constructions in all of rock -- gained a cult following among collectors, and has ironically made them much more popular and influential on an international level than they were during their lifetime. Bassist Eddie Shaw's 1994 autobiography, Black Monk Time, is a fascinating narrative of the Monks' stranger-than-fiction story.

The Monks' only album, "Black Monk Time", is packed with angst anthems on the order of "Shut Up," "I Hate You," "Complication," and "Drunken Maria." One of the strangest recordings of all time, it's now finally available in the U.S. as a 1997 CD reissue on Infinite Zero. The repackage is made all the more appealing with the inclusion of their two later non-LP singles, the live 1966 "Monk Chant," and a couple of 1965 demos, making it the definitive document of the Monks' recorded legacy.

Fly Girls!



Fly Girls!’ celebrates the 30th anniversary of female rap on record!



This double-CD (and limited edition two volumes of super-loud double-vinyl) narrates the story of female rap from its birth in the tenement block parties in New York City’s outer boroughs through to the dizzying career heights of Queen Latifah, Missy Elliott and other modern day power brokers. ‘Fly Girls!’ also discusses the influence of an earlier generation of black female poets whose ideals (both in their art and how they established career paths) helped lay the foundations for birth of the genre.

The history of female rap on record begins in 1979 in New York City as the clamour of the city’s artists, record companies and producers strove to make it onto vinyl in the wake of The Sugarhill Gang’s squillion-selling hit, ‘Rappers Delight’ – released that year on the former soul singer Sylvia Robinson’s Sugarhill Records. It would be the Winley family - comprising sisters Tanya, Paulette - who made the first female rap record produced by their mother Ann and released on their father’s label, Paul Winley Records.

Aside from the singing/rap styles that earlier soul artists such as Aretha Franklin, Shirley Ellis, Millie Jackson and Laura Lee would occasionally adopt in their songs, female rap (like rap itself) had its antecedents in the groundbreaking black poetry of the 60s and 70s with radical, free-thinking poets such as Nikki Giovanni, Camille Yarborough and Sarah Webster Fabio - all of whom are included here – vocalising hitherto unheard expressions of female and black self-determination in their work. These strong, educated, political women not only led the way stylistically but also helped define how a female artist could make their own career path - weaving creativity, politics and family in a way that Missy Elliott, Queen Latifah and others have since followed - establishing the boundary-breaking career paths of many female artists in rap. Hip-hop is a culture of which music is only a part; nowadays (and to an extent from the very beginning) the most successful female hip-hop artist is often singer, DJ, actress, manager, political and social agitator and more in multiple combinations.

Hip-hop’s story begins in the tenement blocks and community centres of the South Bronx. In the first three years-or-so history of hip-hop (1976-9) - before the first rap records were made - aspiring female artists could watch onstage the early female MC role models of Sha-Rock (the first female MC in the group The Funky Four plus One) or the Mercedes Ladies (the first female MC and DJ crew). With Tanya and Paulette Winley’s ‘Rappin and Rhymin’ on vinyl by 1979 it would not be until the following year that the first all-female crew made it onto vinyl when Sequence (featuring a then unknown Angie Stone) was astutely signed, once again, by Sylvia Robinson to Sugarhill Records.

Robinson was not the only woman on the business side of hip-hop. There was Kool Lady Blue who first brought rap out of the Bronx and into downtown NYC at the Roxy nightclub and also later managed The Rocksteady Crew. Monica Lynch who rose to head of A and R and president of Tommy Boy Records, and later vice-president of Warners, comments that because hip-hop was new it did not have the hierarchy of the traditional music industry and women were thus able to move more easily into executive roles. Later, as we shall see, many of the artists moved into the business themselves taking control of their careers and aiding others.

Roxanne Shante is certainly the first female rapper to make a career out of her music. Shante and fellow Queens-resident and producer Marley Marl fought their corner for both their borough (taking on Boogie Down Productions and the Bronx) and anyone else who dared call themselves ‘Roxanne’ in a slanging-match known as ‘The Roxanne Wars’. This verbal jousting had its antecedents dating back to the ‘dozens’ of the playground and tower-block (‘Your mother is a …’, ‘No, your mother is a …’) and to th e Griot storytellers of Africa. Roxanne Shante, and many others here, effortlessly subverted this - and many other - male-dominated traditions to create and re-write new histories.

Female rap is thirty years old (yes, thirty) and it just don’t stop. Here is a snapshot of that history. The album includes so many firsts – first solo record, first crew on record, first number one, first grammy winner, that it would be easier to list the few records featured here that are not historical landmarks in the ongoing tale of female hip-hop.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Palace Music



Lost Blues and Other Songs is the name of a 1997 album by Will Oldham, released under the moniker Palace Music. It collects various singles and rarities Will Oldham released under the Palace names during the early 1990s. "Ohio River Boat Song" is an adaptation of the traditional Scottish "Loch Tay Boat Song", and "Horses" was originally written and performed by Sally Timms of the Mekons on her 1988 solo album Somebody's Rockin' My Dreamboat.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Intrusion


The Intrusion full-length is finally here - a massively anticipated follow up of sorts to 'The Coldest Season' album and without question the most fully-realised Echospace project since that album came out 18 months ago. Steve Hitchell reserves his Intrusion moniker for his rich and sumptuous dub experiments, more Rhythm & Sound as opposed to the to M-Series or BC references more commonly associated with the Deepchord axis. Referencing the Caribbean on 'Montego Bay' the padded, heady structure of the music infuses the massive sense of space with a warm and breezy pulse that sets this music apart from so much of the rubber-coated preset teasing that passes for dub techno these days. Paul St. Hilaire, meanwhile, adds a typically righteous vocal presence alongside luxurious Fender Rhodes on 'Angel', a beautiful cut exclusive to this CD issue. The best tracks from the 12"s are compiled with 'Intrusion Dub', 'Seduction', 'Reflection', 'Tswana Dub' and 'Twilight', in addition to the glorious 'A Night To Remember' inspired by his travels to Japan. Crazily limited to a mere 300 copies only, the cd is now completely sold out!